Levinsky Market

Eilon Paz

Tucked among garment shops and lighting stores in the Florentin neighborhood in southern Tel Aviv is the unfussy but magical Levinsky Market—a five-block stretch of spice shops, delicatessens, bakeries, dairies, fish stores, and other food purveyors that represent the city's present, past and probable future. Florentin was settled in the 1920s by Greek immigrants, who were followed shortly thereafter by Turks. The first establishments of Shuk Levinsky (shuk is Hebrew for "market") date from that time. The Turkish bakery Penso has been serving spectacular burekas, savory pastries best enjoyed with hard-boiled egg and hot pepper relish, for 80 years. Nearby Konditoria Albert, Tel Aviv's only Greek bakery, opened in 1935, sells memorable sweets, including handmade almond paste and pillow-soft bizet (meringue kisses). One of the market's most beloved food shops is also of this generation. Yom Tov Delicatessen is packed from floor to ceiling with treasures ranging from olive oil to hand-stuffed olives. Mid-century immigration from Iran in the 1960s made the Levinsky Market even better, introducing spice kiosks like Kolbol Zol Gadi, where in addition to nuts, fruits, grains, and seasonings from across the globe, shoppers can pick up rose water and other Persian ingredients. A handful of Persian restaurants serve daytime menus of kebabs, gundi (chicken and chickpea-flour meatballs), and ghormeh sabzi, an herb and bean stew. The most famous of them, Salimi, is run by three generations of the same family. In recnet years newer places have joined the stalwarts. One of the best of these is Caffe Kaymak, which offers a vegetarian meu, cocktails made form arak (a licorice-flavored spirit), and a place to gather well after all the other shops have closed.

_Penso
Levinsky 43

Konditoria Albert
36 Matalon
972/3/682-3863

Yom Tov Delicatessen
Levinsky 43
972/3-681-3730

Kolbol Zol Gadi
Zvulun 13
972/3/682-1164

Salimi
80 Nahalat Binyamin
972/3/518-8377

Caffe Kaymak
Levinsky 49
972/3/518-5228_